We’re back in the realm of French wine — not one of the best-known varietals, but a blend from the Rhone valley in the south of France.
Today’s wine, a Domaine le Couroulu 2008 Vacqueyras Classique, comes from a small (yet marketing-savvy) village in the Rhone valley — a Cotes du Rhone made from traditional French grapes. The vineyard itself doesn’t publish any information about the Vacqueyras Classique, but the link above explains a bit more about Vacqueyras, a wine-producing area which considers itself a good enough name that the wines produced there don’t use the Cotes du Rhone label, but instead name themselves after the village. It suggests that wines from Vacqueyras should be aged at least 2-3 years (ours is four years 0ld), but can benefit from cellaring for up to 7-10 years.
Unlike a lot of proprietary blends, this vintner was nice enough to print the wine’s makeup on its label — the Vacqueyrras Classique is 60 percent Grenache, 30 percent Syrah, and 10 percent Mourverde. We’ve covered a few wines that use Grenache in their blend before, and Syrah is often used in its own right to make its own varietal wines. Together, we should get a good blend of fruit flavors and other secondary characteristics.
How does it look? The Classique is a very dark, very opaque indigo color, with a heavy body and thick, long legs when swirled, leading me to expect something heavy on the palate and sweet.
How does it smell? The nose of this wine is a bit acidic but devoid of any specific fruit notes, with instead a mild floral bouquet and a hint of alcohol (not surprising, since this wine clocks in at a respectable 13.5 percent alcohol by volume.)
But how does it taste? The Vacqueyras is much lighter than I expected; it has some mild-to-medium red fruit flavors, like plum or blackberry, with maybe a bit of tart raspberry at the end. The wine is aged enough that there are no tannins, and the mouth feel isn’t harsh or astringent at all, but the alcohol content is high enough that each sip does clean the palate and finish cleanly. Some secondary flavors of pepper and other earthly alkalines are present in the background.
What should I eat it with? Roasts, cheeses, sausages, or anything off the grill (vegetables or meats.) This wine would overwhelm seafood or anything with a mild flavor, and would probably not stand up to anything with a rich cream sauce, but otherwise this will pair well with just about any entree you can imagine.